Kenya: Leaders Plead for KDF Help as Armed South Sudanese 'Militia' Cross Into Turkana County

13 October 2020

Turkana County leaders have appealed to the National Security Council to deploy the army to flush out more than 200 heavily armed militia from South Sudan who have displaced Kenyan pastoralists along Mogilla ranges in Turkana West sub-county.

Led by Senator Malachy Ekal and Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo, the leaders said herders from the South Sudanese Toposa community with their large herds of livestock and sophisticated weapons - including rocket-propelled grenades and automatic machine guns - have for the past three weeks occupied expansive fields more than 50 kilometres from the border.

Prof Ekal said leaders from the region had already raised the issue with top authorities, including Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and had been told the situation is beyond the capability of police officers in the county.

"The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) should take charge of the situation because the militia are so heavily armed that police in Turkana cannot deal with them," the senator said.

Prof Ekal pointed out that the long wait for Kenya to flush out the bandits so as to protect lives and property of border pastoralists was escalating tension that might result in deadly attacks over pasture, water and livestock.

"We are in constant communication with Turkana pastoralists not to engage in armed conflict because as it is, the matter is not a Turkana-Toposa issue but an international one," the senator explained.

Mr Epuyo said KDF troops should be deployed to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country is protected from such incursions.

Armed militia

He said pasture land has completely been depleted by the large herds of livestock owned by the militia, pushing Turkana pastoralists further into the country.

"Extra ammunition in metallic containers and bullet belts send a signal that they are not in the country for peace as those we have talked to said they have come to occupy parts of Turkana," Mr Epuyo said.

Turkana pastoralists now fear losing the only reliable water pan and their livestock in Kapatedie village to the armed militia.

Mr James Ekalale, a herder from Lokiriwak village, said there is limited presence of security forces at the border.

"Our only hope is the military, who should flush them out and if they are really in need of pasture they should respect the current peace agreement that emphasizes on crossing borders without firearms," Mr Ekalale said.

Another resident, Mr Joseph Halinga, noted that the incursion may interrupt learning and ongoing development projects, which include road construction at the Nadapal border point.

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